MLB Playoff Watch: Astros Cruising, Yankees Struggling, Mariners Soaring

To Jordan Shusterman
FOXSports MLB Writer

With less than a month to go until the regular season, only one thing is certain when it comes to the state of the American League playoffs. That means the road to the World Series goes through Houston.

Sure, a wildcard team could beat the mighty Stros in the division series, but as it stands, Houston’s comfortable lead over the New York Yankees has pretty much secured home field advantage as the Astros through the American League playoffs. increase. He will be aiming for his fourth World Series appearance in six years.

After that? Despite Aaron Judge hitting home runs on a daily basis, there are all sorts of possibilities for how the field might be shaken.

Even if New York holds out, the AL Central remains a chaotic mix of three teams vying for the division crown, with three AL wilds, unlike the National League, where Atlanta has held the top wildcard for months. The order of the cards seems to change almost every hour by the team.

Check out 10 American League teams that might still play in October.

(Note: “Last week” records include games from August 29th to September 4th.)

Houston Astros

Arrow direction: neutral
whole: 87-48
Deadline after August 2nd: 20-11
last week: 4-1
Playoff odds (via FanGraphs): 100%

How convenient that the Astros had their premier pitching prospect in Hunter Brown, modeled after Justin Verlander. should it be surprising?

The Astros were able to maintain a very comfortable lead against Seattle all summer, despite the Mariners, as the Yankees heavily squandered their 15.5-game lead in the AL East. Has the best record in the AL since June 21stHome field advantage in the American League playoffs is essentially the Astros’ rock.

But with a relatively easy remaining schedule—three against the Angels, three against the Tigers, and four against the A’s—can Houston hunt down the Dodgers for the best baseball record? don’t rule it out.

new york yankees

Arrow direction: dangerous down
whole: 81-54
Deadline after August 2nd: 11-20
last week: 2-4
Playoff odds: 100%

On paper, the Twins don’t look like the team you want to see when the Yankees try to improve their recent skids. It may be exactly the team New York wants to see, as it has been around for a long time.

Monday’s Game 1 was a case in point, with Aaron Judge’s 3,745 homers (approximately) this season overcoming a huge outburst from former Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez to help New York win 5-2. New York’s biggest problem right now is injuries piling up, with Anthony Rizzo on the injured reserve after it was announced that Andrew Benintendi needed wrist surgery.

Harrison Bader is reportedly nearing a rehab assignment, and Nestor Cortez Jr. is also set to return in the near future, but the team may not be fully healthy and functioning until the postseason. Meanwhile, they have to fend off Tampa Bay and Toronto with incomplete rosters.

Seattle Mariners

Arrow direction: Up
whole: 76-59
Deadline after August 2nd: 21-10
last week: 6-0
Playoff odds: 99.1%

With consecutive away sweeps in Detroit and Cleveland, the Mariners are still well placed in the AL wildcard standings. The pitching staff has been eclipsed for most of the past few months, especially since the arrival of Luis Castillo at Deadline and rookie right-hander George his Kirby emerging as one of the most intimidating young pitchers in his AL. , has supported Seattle.

Starting to put together more consistent performances is now aggressive if the Mariners retain a valuable wildcard as they enter the final difficult stretch of their schedule. The White Sox, Braves and Padres will all be visiting T-Mobile Park next week. If M can tread water in this stretch, he’ll be in excellent shape in the final 20 against teams under .500.

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toronto blue jays

Arrow direction: Up
whole: 75-59
Deadline after August 2nd: 18-14
last week: 5-1
Playoff odds: 97.9%

A doubleheader sweep in Baltimore starting this week will make the Jays feel good, especially in Beau Bichet’s 3-home run game, reminding us of the kind of impact he can have on a lineup with no shortage of star players. is needed.

If you catch the Blue Jays as opponents on the right day or the wrong day, they could look like one of the best teams in baseball. Talent isn’t the issue, but this last month is all about finding more consistency than he’s shown so far.His five-game home series against the Rays next week is an AL wild card. It can be very helpful to materialize the image of

Tampa Bay Rays

Arrow direction: slightly above
whole: 75-58
Deadline after August 2nd: 21-10
last week: 4-1
Playoff odds: 95.5%

This team somehow continues to chug in one way or another.Even without Wonder Franco, he continues to experience setbacks recovery from wrist surgery, the Rays found a way to win baseball games. Most recently, they won a series against the struggling Yankees at home.

Hunting down the Yankees in the division alongside a rising Toronto team will be a challenge, but for a Rays team that has weathered a tremendous amount of injuries to key players, going into the postseason will be a success. Most recently, Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan’s shoulder trouble.

The Rays’ last chance to catch the Yankees is this weekend in the Bronx. After that, you’ll have to watch the out-of-town scoreboards and keep the fight going.

Yankees, Rays heat up AL East

Yankees, Rays heat up AL East

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry analyze the AL East battle between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. Which team will win the division?

cleveland guardians

Arrow direction: under
whole: 68-64
Deadline after August 2nd: 15-15
last week: 1-5
Playoff odds: 46.5%

It’s been a tough week in the Lands as the Guardians have lost back-to-back series at home against Baltimore and Seattle. .

Cleveland’s pitching staff, especially its ridiculously deep and talented bullpen, don’t need Astros-level run support to win games, but the Guardians’ offense is better than what they’ve shown in the past week. must be A big series is looming in Minnesota this weekend.

Minnesota Twins

Arrow direction: under
whole: 68-65
Deadline after August 2nd: 14-17
last week: 3-3
Playoff odds: 31.8%

With two more series left against both Cleveland and Chicago, Minnesota will have to take control of their destiny for the AL Central crown, but now the Twins face the opposite problem as Cleveland. increase. Even with a few additions made at the deadline, the cracks that many feared are starting to appear heading into this year.

IL-returning Tyler Murre has been very disappointing at this stage of the season, and the Twins have turned rookie Louie Berland into making his MLB debut this week at Yankee Stadium, the House of Terror. It’s possible that he might win the title, but it’s likely that some pitchers will have to step up.

chicago white sox

Arrow direction: slightly above
whole: 68-67
Deadline after August 2nd: 16-16
last week: 4-2
Playoff odds: 25.1%

Are they really going to pull this off? A highly promising team heading into the season has seen many parts of its roster flat due to injuries and poor performances, but largely thanks to the inconsistencies of those former teams. The White Sox are mixed to win the division anyway.

Lance Lynn kicked off the week with a vintage performance in Seattle. Elvis Andrus delivered a surprising amount of offensive work in Tim Anderson’s absence. Other young players like Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Lucas Giolito are starting to look like the stars we thought they were a year ago. If so, this team can really start humming.

Baltimore Orioles

Arrow direction: neutral
whole: 71-64
Deadline after August 2nd: 19-13
last week: 4-2
Playoff odds: 3.4%

It could be the week Orioles postseason odds hit double digits at FanGraphsAgain, being swept away by Toronto in a doubleheader on Monday wasn’t a great start.?

It’s worth mentioning other sites with different playoff prediction models such as: Five Thirty Eight (11%), baseball reference (21%) and baseball prospectus (21%) are more optimistic about Baltimore’s chances of achieving this miracle. That said, his two losses yesterday, plus his slump at home this weekend against one of the worst teams in the league in Oakland, will put the wind out of the sails on this magical Baltimore run. I’m pretty sure it blew up.

Tampa Bay is the only postseason contender with a tighter remaining schedule than Baltimore, so things aren’t going to be easy. Rookie Gunnar Henderson already looks like the real deal, but is it too late? If Baltimore keeps hanging out, he needs to keep charging this team on both sides of the ball. cannot be done.

Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson spark

Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson spark

Ben Verlander and Melanie Newman discuss the impact of Orioles rookies Adley Lutschmann and Gunnar Henderson on the team.

boston red sox

Arrow direction: slightly above
whole: 67-69
Deadline after August 2nd: 15-17
last week: 5-2
Playoff odds: 0.8%

Boston, this is your warning: If you don’t see the momentum in the next two series against the Rays and Orioles, we won’t be mentioning you when we do this exercise in two weeks’ time. Including the Red Sox in the debate over is probably already generous, but the Rangers’ mop of Boston (a four-game sweep) kept that hope alive for another week.

Trevor Story has had a great run since leaving IL, and we’ll see if first base candidate Triston Casas can bring another bang to the lineup. Time is running out quickly, but a few series victories this week could put Boston back in the immediate vicinity.

Jordan Shusterman is half @Cespedes BBQ Baseball writer for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

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